How often do you truly listen to your body? Are you in tune with what your body is trying to tell you?
Our bodies are amazing machines. We have the ability to heal, self-regulate, and adapt to new stimuli in our environment.
How can we tap into our own mind/body network and understand the messages we are receiving? Each of the topics below probably warrant an entirely separate article but we’ll do our best to summarize and bring you some of the most important messages you may be hearing from your body.
Pain vs. Discomfort
This is a huge topic when it comes to strength and conditioning. Whether you are a recreational exerciser or an elite athlete, it is very important to be able to distinguish between pain and discomfort. First, let’s define both terms – here’s what the Merriam Webster Dictionary has to say:
Pain: A basic bodily sensation that is induced by a noxious stimulus, is received by naked nerve endings, is associated with actual or potential tissue damage
Discomfort: mental or physical uneasiness : ANNOYANCE
As you can see, there is a distinct difference between pain and discomfort – and it is your responsibility to understand which one you are experiencing at any given time.
Discomfort is something that you can push through. It is a feeling of uneasiness that, by definition, pushes you outside of your ‘comfort zone.’ Meanwhile, pain is a signal your body sends in order to alert you of possible damage you are causing.
Understanding the fine line between these two is important to be able to push yourself and still train safely. My recommendation is to assess yourself honestly to determine what your body and mind are prepared for before each workout. Listen closely to your body. You can push through discomfort and still be cognizant of your pain threshold.
This one is a good topic for me to write on because I can identify with those of you who ALWAYS feel ‘hungry.’
I have been a huge fan of breakfast my entire life. Ever since my college days, I would wake up as early as I had to in order to cook a delicious breakfast. Pancakes and cheesy scrambled eggs are my go-to.
However, when I started my intermittent fasting journey, I eliminated breakfast every day of the week except Sunday. Now, I have come to understand when my body is truly hungry.
As my body adapted to intermittent fasting, I found that hunger is not always what we think it is. Oftentimes, us getting hungry is a response to dehydration. Sometimes, a glass of water or electrolyte drink can significantly reduce our hunger. From an evolutionary standpoint, this makes sense because fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of water and satiate us as well. This kind of ‘hunger’ response was a method of getting us to properly hydrate our bodies.
Be sure to finely tune your hunger-meter to know when your body actually needs nutrition and when you’re just bored or thirsty!
I may have a controversial opinion on this one. My personal belief is that most of us aren’t truly tired throughout our day. Instead, we aren’t stimulated enough to stay awake and highly alert.
I’ve known plenty of people who acknowledge how tired they are right after lunch. Think about it: By 2pm, you may have already been sitting at your desk for 6-8 hours – answering emails, taking phone calls, writing reports.. No wonder why you’re tired!
I like to relate these ideas to my understanding of primal humans. If the saber tooth tiger jumped out of a tree and started chasing you and your family at 2pm, you wouldn’t be tired!
Stimulus is everything, and we have to match our energy with our activity throughout the day.. AND it’s a dynamic situation! Certain days, you will have more energy than others. Find times in the day when you are better at concentrating and focus on tasks that require concentration. In the times you are feeling anxious, get up and MOVE!
Tiredness is usually a feeling we get when our mind and body aren’t in sync. Optimize your day by listening to your body and when you hear that voice that says, “I’m tired,” you know it’s time to switch it up!
Every week, I feel that my latest article is my new best – the standard to which all my other writings should be compared with. This week, I feel like this simple message may be one of the most important things we’ve covered to date.
Listening to your body doesn’t mean to give in to whatever you think it wants. It means you should actively and consciously interpret the data your body is providing and determine the best course of action.
Lastly, it’s okay to be uncomfortable during exercise, hungry throughout your day, and tired when you have given it your all. These are natural parts of life and you should take care of and LISTEN to your body.
What other things does your body tell you? If you’re willing to share, we’d love to hear!
Until next time, stay moving!